The Boston Marathon is the greatest event in the world. I truly believe this. When I moved to Boston in 2006 it quickly became my favorite day of the year (yes, even better than St. Patrick’s Day). There are so many incredible stories involved with the Boston Marathon well beyond the participants in the race. Dick Hoyt pushing his son Rick who suffers from cerebal palsy in a wheelchair, the bandits running for Malia (a 3 year old fighting for cancer), the blind runners aided by guides, and the Dana Farber team raising money for the greatest cancer hospital in the world and the personal motivations driving each team member are among the lasting images I associate with this race. Then there are the 100 thousand plus supporters along the race course who draw inspiration from the runners and their heartening stories. There is so much right and so very little wrong with this day. I had the privilege of running this great race in 2007, 2011, and 2012; and spectated every other year since moving to Boston. I decided last year to take a break from the race but stayed involved through my running club and the many close friends of mine running the race. I was stationed with a group of friends at mile 22.5 when reports of explosions at the finish line started coming in. The seriousness of the situation soon became evident. Shortly after the reports a group of close friends were coming by without knowledge of the situation at the finish line. I will never forget the smiles on their faces as they approached our group. They were so close to finishing their first Boston Marathon, to which they had dedicated so much time for the past several months both training and raising money for their personal causes. Even after informing them that the race was stopped, they did what many runners with the temperament and drive to compete in such an event would do, they kept running. They were stopped at an impending police barricade a mile later. Then came the reports and details of the horror that took place at the finish line. My favorite day of the year turned into a nightmare. With the horror and sorrow for the victims came the awe and pride of the first responders and heroic civilians who saved so many lives. I was lucky to not have any close family or friends injured as a result of the attack. But many weren’t so lucky. My initial, selfish thoughts were sorrow for my close friends who didn’t get to finish this great race, but soon went to the victims whose lives were lost and those maimed whose lives would never be the same. Then there is the feeling of helplessness, wanting to find a way to help these people but not being in a position to do so. I felt the best thing was to carry on and do all I can to show my support for the victims and my community. Also I feel it is important to think of the intention of the attackers who were hoping to kill and hurt more and instill fear into the people of Boston and America. The day after the marathon was my running club’s weekly Tuesday run. After considering cancelling our weekly run we decided to run in honor of the victims and invited the local running community. Our normal group of 20-30 runners grew to 300. Before we ran we had the group scream “FREEDOM” with the intent that we would yell so loud that the perpetrators of this heinous act would hear us. It turned out they were living less than one mile from where we yelled. In addition to the run we collected $4000 to support the victims. I couldn’t be more proud of my club and my community. Needless to say, there was no way I was not running the Boston Marathon in 2014, which will only become better and stronger as a result of last year’s attack. I have decided to train harder than ever and make this year’s run the best race of my life (already over 250 miles into my training). I am dedicating this year’s race to the greatest event in the world, the Boston Marathon, and to the victims, their families, the first responders, and the heroes of last year’s events.
An addition to running I will be once again raising money for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute and honoring my dad, Bob Briggs, who continues his successful fight against prostate cancer. I am happy to report that my dad’s cancer remains dormant as he continues to respond well to his hormone therapy. I remember talking to his doctor six years ago about how this therapy would only be effective for a couple years and then he would have to undergo more aggressive treatments such as chemotherapy. I think one can easily underestimate the human spirit and I believe that this spirit has willed my dad to his continued good health. Although he does like to joke about some of the side effects of the hormone therapy, such as his silky smooth legs, he continues to live a healthy, normal life in sunny Florida. Dana Farber is at the forefront of prostate cancer research and continues to work toward a cure as well as the development of new treatments to extend the lives of those affected by this disease. Through their work, the likelihood that my dad outlives this disease is now a reality. As always I appreciate all the support and I look forward to running the race of my life on April 21st.